Promises of God: Sleep

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8, NLT

I wrote my very first blog post in August of 2013. The last paragraph ending with this desire:

My transparency may not only be God’s way of helping me be honest with myself and others, but His way of letting someone else know that they are not alone. It could be His way of letting a weary, frazzled mother who thinks everyone else has it all together, be reminded: “See, my child, she is just like you.”

Our son, Hunter, had been diagnosed at 18 months old with high functioning autism. Prior to this diagnosis he was struggling to walk, struggling to talk, and struggling to function with his day to day emotions. To the outsider he looked “normal.” He rarely broke a rule. Threw a tantrum (against the rules), or did anything considered “atypical.” He saved all of that for home. And he rarely slept. He had a very LONG bedtime routine. And night terrors often woke him.

I started this blog as a way to get my thoughts together. About how I felt alone as a mom. About how I felt like no one believed me when I said he was autistic. Because they expected a “look.” Or because he was “fine for me.” Or because no one just got it, really.

I spent the hours at 3am writing. Instead of laying in bed thinking about things I couldn’t fix.

Hunter has always been a creature of sleep routines. From the time he was brought home he had unique and very intricate sleep patterns and routines. He would not sleep alone. Due to being laid with Mommy shortly after birth, he was a chest napping, and therefore a chest sleeping baby for about the first 3 weeks of life. My husband and I took turns on our couch, just ensuring he slept until his next feeding. And he slept. Soundly. As long as he was nestled heartbeat to heartbeat.

When he moved to his crib. Yep. Not easy. We had to purchase a special bear just so he would stay there. So used to the sound of heartbeats he had to go to sleep with this rhythm.

Until we discovered, he also had to hold onto something. This is where his beloved stuffed “puppy” comes in. He has not for one night, NOT slept without “puppy.” Let’s NOT even speak that into existence at this point. I don’t care if he IS a teen. Let him have that “puppy.”That “puppy” deserves to be bronzed. Well, not like an idol. If you know a “puppy” of this sort…you know what I mean.

Until sleep routines began to consist of back rubs until he fell asleep. That moved to figuring out math problems that left Hunter in fits of anxiety prior to bed. And his back rubs, consisted of whispered prayers that God would just fix this.

Until health scares turned to nights in the big bed to make sure everyone was ok. And more prayers. That He would just take these anxious thoughts away. Give Him peace. Some relief. Comfort. Someone to comfort Him while he was at school.

He still struggles with some anxiety, but I would not dare challenge that boy to a math contest. You are even more doomed if you dare to battle him at history. And He is often now the one who comforts. It took a lot of prayer, and yes…therapy; even a pandemic and extended time at home with no health scares for this to occur. But God works in mysterious ways.

His sleep problems seem to have ceased for now, though he still wakes when thunder booms. Now, mommy in her middle age struggles once again with the 3am wake-up call. This time it’s not because of that still small child. It’s likely my own anxious thoughts. Older age. God. Sometimes I answer, and I’ll still get up and write like I did when I started this journey way back when. But usually, I utter a simple prayer:

Lord, if you want me to get up; if there is something I need to talk out with you at this very moment you will let me know and I’ll get up. But, if this can wait until we have our time in the morning, please gently nudge me back to sleep.

And He tells me. Usually within 5 min I know. Sometimes I remember right away that I forgot to set my 5am alarm. My reminder I need to spend my morning quiet time with him, and I can get right back to sleep. Other times, I find myself still tossing and turning, and grabbing my 3am journal and heading down stairs.

Look, it may seem silly. But for 13 years we have been the keepers of “slumber.” I know He provides rest after a long day, and He promises that “You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.” (Proverbs 3:24). And He has proven this to be the case so many times in these years.

Have there been nights when sleep has not come? Of course. Some of those nights were filled with trials, and some of those nights were filled with tossing and turning of my own making because I simply didn’t call on God.

Know on those sleepless nights filled with trials, He is there watching your back, too; keeping you safe and gently guiding you to peaceful slumber. You are not alone.

Even at 3am.

More Than Words

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-2, MSG

Love is more than words.

These are the words on the sign that sits above our TV. A sign. A big joke with our kids-mom’s love of signs with phrases and sayings, slathered all around the house. When we shop, the common refrain is, “You don’t need another sign!”

But this one, it had a purpose. A meaning. It was bought to represent a journey in this home. A reminder to all of us. That words at times were meaningless. Especially if they were hard to express.

Love is more than words.

Our son, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism before the age of 3. For many years, words were very hard for him, especially words that expressed any kind of feeling. Emotions did not come out in eloquent speech, but rather kicks, screams, and grunts. While there are many conversations these days in which I wonder if he will stop talking, those are courtesy of many hours of speech therapy, and years of early intervention services.

One thing was always certain.

He can’t at times say he is simply hungry. He has a hard time expressing worry. Anger. Sadness. But he knows the language of love. Without words. And we in turn have learned it, too.

It is expressed in the endurance it takes to sit through one of his tantrums. The patience. The understanding. Knowing it is nothing personal. It is just the internal battle in this kid’s system.

It is in the way he gives. He is a giver. He has spent his last dollar at the school book fair, so his sister can have something, too. Bringing home a poster for her room. Her favorite at the time. Unicorns.

It is in the hugs. Though he can’t always speak love, he can feel love. He is a cuddler, and has been since the beginning. A child who has always craved touch. A bear hug. A deep back rub. A squeeze to calm him down and let him know he is OK.

It is in the patience it takes at times to practice the things that come easier to others. Jumping rope for instance. For several nights in a living room, because balance issues are a thing, too. Anxiety runs in tandem, and jumping rope wasn’t second nature. Using words to teach this lesson wouldn’t do the trick.

Love is more than these.

Words are often superfluous. Used as fillers. Used to tout knowledge. Used at times to get one’s way. Feed desires. Sometimes deceive. They can mean a variety of things. Be taken out of context. And I am saying this as a writer!

For someone who takes them literally, like Hunter, words can be difficult. The action of love-not so much.

Do your words line up with your actions? If you had to experience a life without the use of language, or a different understanding of the use of it, how would your expression of love measure up? Would you be a rusty gate?

Love. It’s more than just words. It’s the small things we do each and every day.

How are you doing when you don’t use words?

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How about a little help over here?

We had prepared him for this day. Told him what exactly to expect. He knew just the number of pricks he was getting, and the shots he needed to get back into school for his 7th grade year. He knew just the time he needed to get up, and what they would require of him once he got there. He knew they MAY have an extra dose of vaccine, and he could get one prick extra. We had prepared him for every possible thing that could be expected.

“We have an extra dose of the vaccine, and he is scheduled for a weight and height check, too.”

Then it happened. Uh-oh.

“You did not tell me about height and weight! Two shots! I am only getting two shots! Because that is what you said!” Kicking. Yelling. Arms flailing. Looking more like a toddler, and less like a 12 year old (well, even more less like one, hence the height and weight check).

The meltdown he had certainly didn’t match the weight he wasn’t gaining. The meltdown he had was simply because Mommy forgot about that height and weight check. It was not on his “schedule.” Not what he was expecting. This is the norm when dealing with autism. Clearly I should know better.

“This is embarrassing. People are looking at us. I’m going to the Jeep.”

I get it. She, his older sister, had endured this just as long as we had. But she was 14. I am 43. My skin is tougher than hers. I had learned that no one was throwing you a bone, and they were going to stare, and he was still going to scream.

“Hun, I got a shot blocker. It makes it hurt less.”

There was my bone. Sweet Jesus. Where did this angel dressed as a nurse come from? And could there please be more like her? 

As we climbed back in our vehicle, my daughter spoke again about her embarrassment, and I proceeded to tell her this, about the girl she described as making faces and laughing:

“No one knows our situation. No one knows what he goes through. Or who he is. And after today they won’t see us again. They may even go home and be horrible to their parents. Or mean to their siblings. Or be big bullies in their neighborhoods or schools. I don’t care if they stare. What I care about is that you two know NOT to do that. You get and give shot blockers”

So. Which one are you? Because I know in the many years we have endured our son’s tantrums we have had some hand us a bone, and some just hand us stares. And I know many don’t know what to do, but a question asking us how to help is enough to make us feel less out of control, less incompetent, less wanting to melt into a puddle (or hide in cars).

On the way home, because I had bribed the kid with Starbucks just to get that weight and height checked without another meltdown (look, I gotta do what I gotta do), I heard from the backseat, “You want to try some?” At first I thought the sky could be falling. Was she being kind to her embarrassing, younger brother? 

As I questioned her character, because this is what “good” parents do when their kids are nice, this is what she told me: “Mom, he didn’t get his cake pop. I’m sharing some of my banana bread.” 

She had handed him a bone. 

Could you hand someone a dose of compassion instead of stares, snickers, and judgment that do nothing but add to the scorn they already feel? What bone could you hand out today to a person, a mom, or a desperate child in need? Do you have a shot blocker, a piece of banana bread, or a yummy cup of coffee to ease the burden for someone? It will not only make them feel a lot better, it’s guaranteed to lift you up too.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25, NLT

His harvest in His time

Ah! Spring and warmer weather! How I enjoy watching the signs of spring to appear. Promise of more sunshine. Longer days. And it seems the long, gloomy days of winter are long gone. It also brings on the task of gardening.

I became a fan of gardening when my youngest was in elementary school. He would often come home from school, having held all his frenzied emotions in to get through a long, trying day; he released them on the people he deemed the most safe-those at home. Cooking was one way he would calm his wayward emotions, but gardening was our next go-to strategy to release the grip anxiety and autism had on his overwhelmed brain.

I found myself using plants and flowers last year in the throes of my own uncertainty while the world shut-down, and I meadered through an unexpected furlough. I desired the art of nurturing. And plants allowed that. They need to be nurtured, and I craved order; gardening does that, too. Demands order. Plus…it’s hard work. It is hard to keep your mind on anything chaotic when you are digging holes , digging in dirt, batting at flies, pulling weeds, and wielding a shovel or rake.

So I crafted a container garden on my back porch and got to work with transplanting some flowers, fruits and vegetables I could nurture and watch grow. And I did the same this year, as the dreary, cold winter days I tend to dread made way to promises of brighter days I look forward to. Brighter days with blooming flowers, green leaves, fruits on stems, and small shoots of vegetables peeking from tender green stems. I like watching the blooming.

In my garden, I have learned I hate to plant seeds. I’ve tried it, and each time I have failed. Nothing grows. I don’t even see a green leaf peeking out of the dirt.

Leaving me to believe a number of things: I failed. I am no good. I got it all wrong. Or I do what I do in my gardening state-avoid it altogether. I just don’t do that thing anymore. I’ll let the farmers do that thing instead.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. NLT

Did you know this? By the time those green strawberry or jalapeno plants make it to your local nursery, secure in their little black containers, with green shoots, and ready to be transplanted into your garden…they have been growing for weeks, or months. For instance, it can take 3-6 months for a strawberry plant to be ready to transplant once planted from seed. Meaning that farmer worked in a field on that seed long before you got that plant home, has no clue where it ended up, and who it may be blessing. Yet, he is still in his field, planting seeds.

In some seasons I have been the planter of seeds in another’s heart. And sometimes I have been the one to water. Other times, someone else comes along, and waters something I have planted. I may not see the green leaves, or the blooms that my planting produced. I have no idea where that little seedling may have ended up.

But He does. God knows. Because God is the one who ultimately makes the seeds we plant grow. He is the one who is in charge of the blooming process. The timing. The when. The how.

We may play one small part in tending to God’s field. In helping His garden bloom, but He is the one in control of the entire process.

Who is chosen to plant the seed is up to Him. Who is chosen to come along and water what was already growing in the soil of the heart is up to him. When those flowers, or the fruit of His Spirit blooms is up to Him.

We may never see it. We never know exactly what part we played, but we can trust the process, because we know God will tend to what He wanted planted; and He won’t leave the harvest to wilt away.

We can trust God to tend to the blooms, to the harvest, and to show up in homes even when we can’t see.

But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest. Luke 8:15,MSG

Whether you are the planter, or the one who waters; the seed-that is, the Word of God-once that seed is sent out, it will grow within the hearts of those God designed to bloom, in the ways and time He sees fit for His glory.

We may never see the harvest from what we have tended or planted, but once sent out, God will ensure the harvest is reaped. You keep planting. You keep watering. Let Him tend to the harvest.

A friend to the lonely

“I don’t want to go to school! I.Dont.Want.To!”

This wasn’t a cry I hadn’t heard before from this child. In fact, it’s often uttered daily. He doesn’t want to get dressed. He mumbles and grumbles many days all the way through the morning routine.

But this cry was different.

It was a gut-wrenching cry that woke this little one from sleep.

“I can’t make it! I can’t do it all day. I can’t!”

And why couldn’t he? Because his friend on the bus was mean; and Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s were the only days he didn’t play alone at recess.

Daily I am the one folks come to for answers to these type of school woes. But today? I had nothing.

Nothing to calm his anxious spirit. Nothing to convince him to go to school. No solution for the loneliness he felt on that playground.

Sure. I could provide the reassurance that God was most certainly with him at recess, but he knew this already. And while it is nice to know that God sits with us, it is also no secret that a 10 year old, 5th grade boy also desires that someone else will sit with him in his lonely places. To invite him to play. To help him not feel left out or different. Especially when he can’t play basketball or football.

All my little guy wanted was someone to play tag with him. To understand that his clumsy, little legs…they just couldn’t do sports.

And it’s what I wanted for him, too.

Today? If your heart is breaking for your lonely child? It’s what I want for you and yours, also.

Today, I pray that God is not only with your lonely and hurting child, but that He sends someone.

He sends someone who sees their own brother or sister sitting alone, and invites them to be their “friend” for the day (Proverbs 18:24). That someone will go outside their circle, show hospitality, and make yours feel like an “insider” (Hebrews 13).

Ask a lonely soul to play.

Tell them, “It’s ok. I’ll teach you.”

Or drop the football, and simply stop to play tag.

I pray your little one is sent a friend to the lonely.

Can I get a side of grace with that Autism, please?

It was an especially hard Sunday. In my desperation I spent all day trying to find the words to express what I had on my mind. What I wanted to say. The loss, disappointment, guilt, and even anger I felt.

Nothing I found measured up. Nothing spoke to my unique situation.

See, I am a former children’s pastor. In addition, I am a counselor for kids with special needs and mental health diagnosis. I’m expected to have all the answers. To guide kids in making the right choices. To be strong. But with all these things, I am also a weary and imperfect parent. I have a son with special needs. And because of this, I end up feeling utterly alone.

Because for all the work done to make more people aware of how a kid like Hunter can present in social situations, there is still a long way to go. The fact remains that many still expect him (and many children like him) to look and act only one way. They then dismiss his overwhelming needs, and our struggles if he doesn’t.

Tell us all the things we or he need. Can I tell you for a minute what we need?

He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. Hebrews 6:10

Please. If you don’t know what to do. Just say it. Ask us how you can help. Don’t simply stand by and remain silent. It only compounds our loneliness. Makes us continue to believe that no one gets it.

And once you have learned how to help us help him, teach your kids how to do the same. There is nothing more inspirational and rewarding to a kid with special needs than to have his or her peers get it, to come alongside them so they don’t feel so alone in their turmoil. I don’t expect your child to understand what autism is, or to totally be in tune with his feelings. What I do expect is for them to offer a hand. A pat on the back. A gentle word. Anything but more uncomfortable stares.

We need you to realize that while all those heartwarming stories of successes and milestones. Those happy You Tube worthy, going viral moments are wonderful; they were also made possible by many heart-wrenching ones. We need you to listen to these as much as you celebrate the successes. However, when we get the courage to share those heart-wrenching moments, we usually hear your silence.

What we really need. What we really want. Desire in the midst of the chaos. Crave beyond the stares, and covet in our quick snappiness or inability to cope is simply this: grace.

I don’t need your judgment. I don’t need you to make a comment about how I need to smile more. Or let someone know how I forgot to greet you this morning when I came into church. Did you know I listened to a 10 year old scream all morning getting dressed because he didn’t want to come? Then his underwear was too tight. His shirt was too something, and he then screamed all the way to church.

Yes. I knew I could get 5 minutes of peace in my office before the service started, so I ran there.

And, yes. I know I sit alone in the first service. Because my son is not with me. He won’t take all of my attention. I can listen to the Word unobstructed. Until the next service starts, and he is moaning about the length. The noise. A back rub. His sister. And I can’t hear anything the preacher is saying. I just need my moment now. Please.

And please understand, that…yes. He looks fine right now. In front of you. Talking to you. He is not so socially unaware that he does not understand what it is like to be embarrassed. He actually fears embarrassment like he fears the dentist. Immensely. So, he has the ability to hold all his emotions in until he gets alone with mommy or daddy and explodes. Because we are safe. We can handle it. Or so he thinks. And even if we can’t, he knows we won’t judge him. We won’t leave him. We will always love him. He just isn’t that safe around everyone else. So when he leaves this church screaming with me, it’s not because I’m an inept parent. I am a safe one.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Who recognizes as well those who have overlooked the ten-year old screaming the words “fart” or “butt” in the middle of the church service. Who simply help him mask his discomfort with his overloaded senses. Because that is what it is. And for whatever reason these totally inappropriate words at the time provide some kind of comfort. Thank you. Thank you for making it seem completely normal. And thank you for reminding him it is completely not OK to say them during the church potluck.

Thank you for being a safe enough person to him that he is completely comfortable enough with you. That he will gladly let you pick him up, even though he is 10. So he can be distracted long enough for Mommy to have a ten minute conversation after church. Because you know he was ready to leave at 12. Because church was supposed to be over at 12, and we are still here at 12:05. Thank you.

Thank you for continuing to invite us to lunch. Even though we decline every single time. Because our kid will more than likely only want a hamburger. Only from McDonald’s. And, you know. It’s 12. Church is over. And, well we must go home. But thank you for continuing to invite us. Thank you.

And most of all thank you to the those who can recognize this mom’s face. The one without the smile. The one who ran to her office as soon as she got to church. For just five minutes. Who may look harried. Who may have forgotten to say good morning. All to ensure a kid felt safe on the way to church. Thanks for stopping and asking this safe momma, “Rough morning, huh?’ Thank you.

And this safe mom is teaching this boy that grace handles getting screamed at with stoicism, “It’s OK, sweet child’s,” head massagers, and back rubs.

Accepts his apologies over and over and over; even if he will be doing it all over again next Sunday. Or when he is hungry again. Or mad because the WiFi is out. Or lonely because his sister has a play date and he feels left out. He knows this house offers grace. Safety. Security. Acceptance of his differences.

And I pray this safe mom is teaching others how to do the same.

Because you may have messed up. You may not know how to handle it. You may have thought he was just a bratty kid, and we were inept parents. Tried to help, and failed. It’s OK. We tried and failed, too. We do often. Still. But we have something to offer: Grace.

Because it’s what we all need. Autism or not. Just a side of a little bit more grace.

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

So that no one walks alone

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“I’m bored.”

“She’s an idiot. Why does she want to go to the pool so much.”

“You are the worst brother ever. You don’t ever want to do anything”

“You are stupid. I am sick of sitting by this stupid, stupid pool, stupid head.”

When they are not fighting over who gets the hour of free time. They fight over whose turn it is to go first.

When I am not rock-paper-scissoring these fights, I am dragging one kicking and screaming out of said pool after he has smacked me in front of everyone for asking him to sit down, and not ask me one more time when it is time to leave the “dummy” pool with “dummy Hayley.”

When I am not battling fights at the pool, I am battling them at the cabin, in a tiny room over whether they will play Monopoly or Clue, or even play a game at all. Whether Hunter is “boring,” or Hayley is once again “dumb” for even liking board games.

We were only away two days, and if the kids were not entertained every second they did not know what to do. They fought like 2 rabid pit bulls. Mommy could not please both, because neither of them seem to like the same things, and if they do it’s definitely not at the same time. The schedule Mommy tried to impose to ensure both got ample time at each activity of their choice is not working. Mom is frantic, has lost her cool, and then some, and needs something to sustain her.

Coffee can only go so far. And, after I head back into the pool. After the curly-headed monster has screamed a couple “nos” at me, and slapped at me again. As he stands there kicking at the fence and grunting, I realize that as I sit back down, I may be surrounded by a ton of people, but I am utterly and helplessly alone.

I don’t have anyone here to help carry this load when I can’t split myself in two.

No one is reassuring me that my parenting decision was not one that will scar him for life.

That my daughter won’t resent all the time her younger brother takes from her.

Instead, this frantic mom wanted to find a corner, and kick at the fence herself. Or, at least find a small hole to crawl into. I was embarrassed, frustrated, feeling under appreciated, and then it happened. The tears I was trying so hard to fight, finally just fell.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Until, one mom saw the tears falling as I sat on the side of that pool. As I sat trying to hide them neatly underneath the big hat I wore.

“What are your kids names? Are they coming back in a few weeks for camp?”

I explained that yes, the oldest one surely, but that curly-headed monster…more than likely-no. He had autism, and with it some issues that he just couldn’t get over that kept him from enjoying it.

“Oh, my oldest has Aspergers. I totally understand. It’s hard.”

There it was. Relief.

Someone who had seen my mommy moment. My “I want to melt right here and disappear” moment, and reached out.

And, even if this Mom didn’t understand what I was going through in that moment, she tried.

I know God is with me. I know in those moments when I feel alone, I can call on Him, and He will be there.  However, he has wired us for human connection.  And, there are times I desperately need that. And, I am pretty sure you do, too.

And with this connection comes His desire for us to share each other’s burdens. To walk with a mom who is having a hard time. So she isn’t sitting at the pool feeling so alone.

It will take us out of our comfort zones. This I know is true, but it will also breath life into some desperate soul wanting to give up. Hope into a weary parent who sees only their failings.

“I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Matthew 25:43

In a world that appears to be hurting and hiding it well, reaching outside your comfort zone, provides light to someone who may feel all alone in their struggles. May give someone the ability to reach out next time they feel like giving up. Screaming. Or running for the hills. Most importantly, it shows them the love of our Savior.

We are called to be that light to others as a community of believers, but the question is- are we? Are we like that Mom at the pool, willing to see the tears that fall, and get a little messy with them? Or do we steer clear, not wanting to have anything to do with that? When we ask someone how they are doing, do we really stop and wait for their answer? Or, are we offering fly-by conversation out of obligation, an “I’m asking how you are because I have to’s” with no desire to really know? Jesus certainly never stopped to wonder if someone was worthy of his time when he saw others hurting, or marched on intent on getting to his next stop. Neither should we.

Let’s be a little more messy. Jump in, walk with someone a while, and leave people a little less alone. You could be just the friend someone needs that particular moment or day. You could be the hope that Mom needs to just keep going. The reason someone’s tears suddenly disappear. The reason someone doesn’t melt into a puddle at the pool. It may take some time. It may be uncomfortable, but it will ensure that no one ever walks through their mess alone.

battling little boy giants

So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.  1 Samuel 17:50

Battle Rock

David and Goliath. One of my favorite Bible stories. Every time I read, tell, or hear this story I get excited. I am reminded of so many of God’s truths. It is a reminder to children that no matter how small or young they are they can do great things for God. It is a reminder to us that God can take down our biggest giants if we have faith. It serves as a reminder to me of each giant he has taken down for me time and time again in my own life.

During my quiet time a passage of the story of David’s battle with Goliath was part of my daily reading of God’s word. As I read the words David spoke to Goliath as he prepared for battle, I began to feel the excitement all over again. The hope and promise that even kids can do great things! Those past giants that were conquered! All those future giants that will be!

And, then I began to think of my little boy’s giant. That giant called school. The one that had him not wanting to grab his own basket at back to school night. Sort his supplies. Look his teacher in the eye. The one who screamed when a simple question was asked about a kid in his class. Who cried and pulled his hair when his locker wouldn’t open. Who dreads the first day of school weeks before the actual day.

His Goliath was real, and the poor little guy’s plan of attack was grunts, kicks, and screams that were now becoming this family’s giant.

And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us! 1 Samuel 17:47

God had now told me exactly what to do.

My favorite story was now our new plan of attack to tackle our back to school Goliath.

So, as I put the little guy to bed I read him the story. It’s a story he had heard before. As he so quickly told me. He’s a PK (pastor’s kid). He’s heard them ALL before. He is also usually the one up front telling his momma exactly how to relay the story. While his momma threatens to send him out.

“But Hunter, I am reading only part of it. The part where David kills Goliath.”

“Oh! That’s my favorite part! The best part!”

Well, at least we agree! And, so for a time…he is at ease. And, while he does slightly critique me as I read (tell me I am doing it wrong, ask me why my version is different, refer to the exact age of David when I refer to him as a “boy.”), he is completely open to the message. Which is all I really asked for.

And, as I finished the story and prayed to God to give me the right words to say to my son who does not understand metaphors (black and white thinking, here folks), he asked me,  “What does this have to do with school? Is it like my giant or something?”

Oh! Thank you, God!

“Well, is it, Hunter?”

“Well, yes! It stresses me out!”

So, in his hand, I placed a stone. On the stone were written the words: “The Battle is the Lord’s.” I explained that David defeated Goliath with one stone, and Hunter could defeat his anxiety with one stone. He would take it in his backpack to school as a reminder that if he felt anxious, he could bow his head and repeat those words to himself: “The Battle is the Lord’s.”

I had no idea what would happen when I placed that stone in his tiny hands. I figured what I would get would be a perplexed look, and a grunt. Instead, that little boy took out his Bible, searched for the scripture reference I had written under those words, and underlined those same words in it. He then bowed his head and repeated them: “The Battle is the Lord’s.”

God had given me the message and the words to say, and He had given that little boy an open heart to receive it.

We all face a number of Goliath’s. A number of challenges. Some are big. Some are small. Some are visible. And some are hidden.

But we are never sent out for battle alone. God is fighting with us and for us each step of the way.

“The Battle is the Lord’s” 1 Samuel 17:47

Courage when things go bump in the night

Courage

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “take courage, I am here.” Matthew 14:27

Recently, we moved out of the house we had lived in for nine years. For those years we were comforted and secure inside its walls. We had time to get used to every noise. The environment around us. Every creek. Every dark corner. Every creepy cranny.

Then we made the decision to move. Not an easy one. We had our little monster to consider. The one that doesn’t handle change very well. While we were blessed with a house that was on the same bus route, we worried about this new transition. What would these new surroundings do to our boy’s overwhelming anxiety? Our finely established and well-tuned routine?

For a couple weeks, it seemed we had made it through unscathed. Excitement of having rooms of their own assuaged any doubts. New routines were put in place. All was well.

New home. New noises. New environment around us. New creaks. New dark corners. New creepy crannies. New curly-headed boy fears.

“Mommy, It’s cweepy in here.”

This. The second night in a row. During an already exhausting week? Really? I just want to sleep. And, at first I tried to. Sleep alone that is. I had that “discussion” about needing to be a “big boy.” Needing to handle this one alone. So, I went to bed. Certain that once I put my foot down, he would heed this and try to be a little brave.

Until, I heard it. Soft whimpers. From his room. Whimpers of loneliness. Whimpers of fear.

“Honey, remember what we learned tonight. Jesus gives us courage.”

Yet, the room was still too “cweepy.” And, as I heard the soft footsteps. Saw the tiny shadow along the wall, walking along to Mommy’s room. Heard that tiny voice at the end of my bed once again reveal he was scared. I knew I had to be “it.” I had to be his courage.

Do not neglect to do good, and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

He has been my courage. He, Jesus, has sat with me and comforted me in dark corners and creepy crannies. So, I sacrificed some sleep, and I shared it. I shared some of mine. My courage. To ask Him for help. To let Him lull us both to sleep.

And, as he pressed his warm little back against mine, I knew that for him to have a little peace tonight, I had to give him a little of mine.

For him. For his protection. Because, right now…Mommy is his courage. Until he has the grown the wings to look for and rest on those promises on his own.

There will surely be days like this

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG

Bad Moment

Some days really do play out like the pages of your favorite book. The not so happy kinds. So in the style of one my favorite childhood books, here is an ode to one of ours!

Mommy woke me up to early, and then I bumped my head on the side of the bed. I couldn’t get comfortable in my chair, and the shirt I picked out to wear was too tight.

The dog chewed my socks, and I accidentally wore my sisters. Mom made me brush my teeth before I ate breakfast, and now my toast tastes like toothpaste. That too tight shirt was on inside out, and now I can’t find my other shoe.

Ugh! Now look….Mommy, it’s 7:22. We are supposed to leave at 7:20. It’s raining. The umbrella just broke. The bus is late. And we have a sub.

It’s going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Mommy says some days are just like that.

I didn’t get any sleep, and forgot to set the alarm. The dog has been in the trash, and it’s all over the kitchen floor. I have a headache. Stepped in a puddle in perfectly good shoes.

The bus is late. There is a sub. I’m sopping wet, and late for work. Without the lunch I left on the counter. And now there is someone else as I arrive laying in a puddle on the floor.

Daddy has been gone. My little monster is out of his routine. He is hungry. Kicking and screaming in the middle of the floor. And, Mommy? Mommy is crying in the corner. Hoping no one sees.

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Why are some days like that?

They are. There are days it seems everyone has dumped all their crap in your cornflakes. Cornflakes that now may taste like toothpaste.

On those days we may throw shoes. Have them thrown at us. We meltdown. React inappropriately because of all our mixed up emotions. Hurt feelings. Hurt others. Scream. Curse. Punch. Start loading someone else’s cornflakes with our crap. Then maybe the tears just start flowing, and you wonder when you will ever get a break.

Yes, Mommy said some days are just like that.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But, take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Bad days will come. Those days when the struggle begins before our feet even hit the floor. But, we have a choice on these days. We can keep trying to push through on our own to get over all those hurdles, as we knock them all down in the process.

Or, we can stop. Breathe. Look up.

Just breathe, just breathe. Come and rest at my feet. And be, just be. Chaos calls, but all you really need is to just breathe. 

Trust me. I know it is not easy. Being a glass half empty girl, my mind tends to wander to catastrophe mode. And my breathing is usually heavy and racked with sobs. Until I just want to leave those cornflakes on the table, run away, and never come back.

The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans in us for Christ will have you put together and on your feet for good. 1 Peter 5:10, MSG

Yes. His grace. His power. His strength. His peace. They overcome any terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. They will come. Again and again. But, he will restore us. Each and every time. After every tear. Every swear word uttered. Every shoe thrown. He will bring us back to our feet. And give us the strength to conquer the next bad one.

Because some days are just like that He said.